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Invited Commentary
Aug 13/27, 2012

When It's the Right Care, More Is Better: Comment on “Palliative Care and Quality of Life” and “Pain as a Cause of Agitated Delirium”

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Palliative Care Program, Division of Hospital Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco.

Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(15):1172-1173. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.2894

The front page of the Wall Street Journal reports that, according to a randomized clinical trial, a new drug, palliatosin, when given to patients with metastatic non–small cell lung cancer, like the patient described by Kirch,1reduces depression, improves quality of life, and, as emblazoned in the headline, lengthens life by 2½ months. Based on the results of this trial, the stock price for the maker of palliatosin rises sharply. Word spreads like wildfire among patients, driving intense demand for palliatosin. The manufacturer struggles to maintain adequate supplies. Palliatosin is hailed as a major breakthrough in cancer care. Although it costs $2000 a month and was tested only in patients with incurable lung cancer, physicians prescribe palliatosin to patients with all types of cancer at all stages based on its impressive impact and complete lack of adverse effects.